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Full text of "The manufacture and properties of iron and steel"

428                                    THE IKON INDUSTEY..
many well-meaning persons advocate "compulsory arbitration" as the panacea for all ills; "but it is impossible to see how a manufacturer can be forced to take orders and to operate his mill if he chooses to shut down. To compel him to do so would be condemnation of property, and the slightest consideration of fairness would lead the state or the community to make good any loss he might sustain by the continuance of operations. On the other hand, it is impossible to see how a workman can be compelled to work at any wage which is not satisfactory to him, when perhaps he is offered more elsewhere, and no manufacturer would ask for such an unconstitutional infringement -upon the personal rights of his workmen. Moreover, the labor unions themselves, while anxious for a law to compel employers to abide by an award, recognize the injustice and the impossibility of forcing a workman to labor for less than he considers his due. It would therefore seem that the beat way is the simplest: it is to let each man exercise the rights . given him by our laws of working for the highest wage he can get, and of leaving when he is not treated rightly.
Under the system of labor unions the men who perform some particular line of work may often be entirely unrepresented on the committee.   The works with which I am connected has in operation seven rolling mills and each one is different, both in amount and character of product.   In some of these mills there are over thirty different kinds of positions where the men are paid by the piece or ton, not counting the work done by the day or hour, and each of these positions has a special rate.   Under any system of committees the great majority of positions will have no representative, and there will always be an incentive on the part of a committeeman to look after his own job and his own friends, while the management of the works will be only too glad to give such a committeeman anything he may ask if he will agree to a low rate for those not present at the conference.   A few years of such work will generally bring on a strike, and well-meaning humanitarians will then advocate "arbitration," by which is meant a reference to some men who do not know a pair of tongs from a straightening press, and who will recommend that the difference be split, the question of disproportionate rates being left as it w.as.   To what extent this disproportion can obtain has been shown by sworn testimony before a Congressional committee, where it was proved that men who joined